Tor, a definition.

Tor as defined in many dictionaries as a noun that comes to mean:

  • a hill or rocky peak
  • a rocky pinnacle; a peak of a bare or rocky mountain or hill.
  • a high rock or pile of rocks on the top of a hill.

Origin of Tor

Tor is derived through Old English in the form of torr. It extends back at least to the 12th century and is perhaps of Celtic origin. Other local languages with similar sounds and meanings are; Welsh tor ‘belly’ and Scottish Gaelic tòrr ‘bulging hill’.

Dartmoor’s only Marilyn

Of the long list of 176 Marilyn’s in England, there is only one of its type on Dartmoor. That lonely peak is High Willhays (SX 580892 621m a.s.l.).  A Marilyn doesn’t have to be any particular height but it does need to have an elevation of 150m or more of relative height.

High Willhays does have a slightly lesser peak (Yes Tor 619m a.s.l.) and indeed many other linked Dartmoor peaks that do not allow for a fall of over 150m however it exists as a Marilyn due to the fact that it is the highest point on Dartmoor and Dartmoor’s elevation is over 150m above the surrounding countryside.

What’s a Dewey?

A Dewey is a hill or mountain in England or Wales over 500 metres (1,640 feet) in elevation, but below 2,000 feet (609.6 metres), with a relative height of at least 30 metres (98 feet) with relation to other hills in it’s locaity, namely you must descend at least 30 metres before you ascend another hill. The Dewey list was compiled by Michael Dewey and published in his book Mountain Tables. There are 13 Deweys on Dartmoor (Beardown Tors is actually 3 tors/ ‘rock stacks’ with the westernmost ‘stack’ being the highest at 513 m).

Miniscule Sausage Area

Great name for a set of rocks. My choice is limited as the Ordnance Survey has (so far) failed to plot these rocks on the 1:25000 Explorer maps. That being, they have taken to be known by the effectionate name of the ‘Miniscule Sausage Area‘ (SX 2572 6933). It is the name provided in the latest Climbers Club climbing guide to Dartmoor, and as far as I’m concerned it will now stick. How long before OS have to accept that the rocks exist and have to name them as per the choice provided by the nation. Not quite ‘Boaty Mc-B’ but potentially a name to be presented to the cartographer when Dartmoor is next re-surveyed and they find the missing rocks.

Miniscule Suasage Area, Eastern profile

Miniscule Suasage Area, Eastern profile

The photograph is of the eastern profile of the Miniscule Sausage. The western profile is even more impressive but not as accessible when the bracken has grown in June. Good low-grade bouldering is available at this crag, mostly on the western face however the two tallest blocks in the centre of this image provide a rather satisfying F4 problem with a relatively good landing.

Summer Solstice sunrise at Merrivale double stone row

It’s been a long time coming, to muster the will to visit Merrivale double stone rows on the morning of the summer solstice. I felt partly righteous and also bemused at what I expected. The weather was perfect, a high pressure dominating and clear skies forecast. It had to happen this year.

Summer Solstice at Merrivale Bronze Age Stone rows

Sunrise was predicted for 5.05am however it turns out that it doesn’t rise properly above the ridge of Little Mis Tor until 20 minutes later.  Regardless, I was soon to witness Merrivale bathed with the sun’s warm golden glow on a breezy June 21st 2017.

I was drawn to Merrivale to seek out a connection with the Bronze Age people and their mystical stone rows and waited patiently to see if a secret could be captured out of this moment when the sun reaches it’s highest on the Little Mis Tor ridge. I wasn’t disappointed when I realised that the cairn on the Mis Tor profile can be seen clearly from the stone rows, and appears to demark the line of sight through the small kistvaen found along the stone row. Maybe my imagination but I similarly noticed that two of the stones encircling the kistvaen also made a plausible link to the rising sun.

I’m sure there was a plan for the placement of these ancient stones, on this rather plain hill. I’d be surprised if I’m right but I went there to connect and I found my connection. A worthy experience and one that I will repeat some day, perhaps to find the real meaning to the stones of Merrivale.